Pictured: From left to right, photographers Kelly Reene (Gladwyne), Alex Lowy (King of Prussia) and Debbie Laverelle (Villanova) stand in front of entries in the photography category.
GLADWYNE- It’s been a minute since I’ve done Gladwyne’s social scene. And yes, Gladwyne has one, although you may need to pay attention to local community signs and posters in order to locate events. Let’s just say we are “small but mighty”. Personally, I long for music and open-mic nights. I have already spotted the perfect place for my chimerical adventure. That, however, is a story for another article.
“I think the power of art is the power to wake us up, to hit our depths, to change us. What are we looking for when we read a novel, see a movie, listen to a piece of music? We seek, through a work of art, something that alters us, of which we were not aware before. ~~Jhumpa Lahiri
Speaking of the 19035 social calendar, I was delighted to meet Anne Foote of the Gladwyne Library League as she laid cheery signs in the floor announcing the annual League Arts and Crafts Fair. I was walking my pup when I met this “hooman”, the aforementioned Anne. We chatted as long as Tillie Rose gave me a break from silence (Mom, it’s my walk time!). Upon the split, it was decided that I would contribute both dessert and event coverage for the show’s opening night.
The party night took place on a beautiful spring evening. I arrived as attendees were streaming into the library’s second-floor meeting room, where the curated exhibit was being held. The room filled up pretty quickly. People were locked in, eager to get out and feel the warmth that comes when food, drink and people come together for a good cause or just because. Add art into the mix, add a wealth of local talent, and it’s a sure bet for great turnout. Attendees gathered in abundance to enjoy light bites, wine and desserts, socialize and enjoy the art.
“The creative adult is the child who survived.” ~~ Ursule Leguin
I thought about what it takes to put together such an event – not just the preview party, but the whole show that lasted almost a week. Anne has been creating show masterpieces for many moons. But she doesn’t do it alone. There is a massive contingent of volunteers who dedicate their time, energy and talent to ensure the show’s continued success. Take, for example, Heidi Cooke, who designed the charming and whimsical centerpiece displays, one of which was placed in the drinks and edibles area. An oval-shaped piece of Plexiglas, fashioned after an artist’s palette, was dotted with circular paint blots and adorned with three brightly decorated paintbrushes tied to the base with bandanas. A splash of paint in the middle with text advertised the show.
Library staff and social media manager Emily Hutchinson designed eye-catching show flyers, while a panel of “distinguished professionals and accomplished artists” served as volunteer judges. Showcasing their individual works in the “Judges Corner”, Peter Seidel, Mickey Shumway, Lisa Herrmann and Alex Lowy made up the formidable creative team of award pronouncers.
Others donated bottles of wine or provided light bites and treats. The restaurant area was colorful and attractive – a work of art in its own right. While perusing the entrees for the show, guests enjoyed finger foods such as fresh fruit, cheese and crackers as well as vegetable dishes and dip. Before show time, curators had hung and arranged the pieces, while art custodians, at varying times, kept a close eye on creative valuables throughout the event. Eva Kay Noone organized the very popular treasure hunt.
Obviously, it takes a whole village and it’s the ultimate labor of love when so many people gather behind the scenes, working tirelessly and energetically to bring this beloved event to fruition. Many others also share selflessly. These collective contributions are greatly appreciated. Residents of Gladwyne and others in Lower Merion Township (residency is a requirement of exhibit entry) show their gratitude year after year by visiting in droves and through donations and contributions that support and benefit the Library League.
“Practicing any art, whether good or bad, is a way to grow your soul. So do it.” ~~ Kurt Vonnegut
To find out more about the League, I did some research and found that it was created to “foster a closer relationship between the Gladwyne Free Library and the residents of Gladwyne.” Its mission is to promote knowledge of the library’s functions, services, resources and needs and to participate in the development of programs that will enhance and enhance these resources and services,” the library’s website states. Funds raised for help “maintain the library’s historic building and grounds and help support the library’s extensive collection of books.” of the library of all ages.
It was exciting to meet the artists and hear them talk about their creations. I enjoyed discovering the inspired stories behind creations such as “Him” by Beverly Kiefer (see photo below). My series of captioned photos following this text is a visual representation of the event. Scroll for a glimpse of the art and artists who facilitate our community’s collective ‘soul growth’ in the ‘Heart of the Village’ (as Gladwyne Library has been called since 1931) while providing cultural stimulation.
One of my favorite places during the curated exhibition is the wall displaying entries in the children’s and youth categories. I am always impressed by the sheer volume of talent on display. This same observation was echoed by a woman standing next to me. She said she expected to find popsicle stick creations, but was blown away by the skill and skill level revealed. I jokingly told her that she should have seen my entries from a previous year which would have easily earned a blue ribbon in any popsicle stick classification.
Another partying gentleman mentioned that he was surprised by the level of mastery shown in each division. Again, the idea that such depth and breadth of incredible artwork can be found comes as a surprise to some. Apparently there is an element of closely guarded secrecy, although the local crowd knows better and more about each passing year than the small village that could do ever did. It wouldn’t surprise me if a future show featured a nationally recognized guest artist giving a speech on opening night.
The categories of featured entries are many and diverse. If it can be created, there is probably a category fit. Plus, the medium! Check out this list: painting, drawing and sculpture (including mixed media and collage), crafts such as jewelry, stenciling, pottery, decoupage, woodworking, weaving, rugs, macrame, basketry , dolls, calligraphy and furniture, photography, fabric art (embroidery, cross stitch, smocking, quilting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, yarn art, spinning, felting, etc.) and group projects . Phew: this is one hell of an opportunity for just about anyone to engage in creative expression.
I subscribe to the notion expressed by Kurt Vonnegut, who said that “doing any art, whether good or bad, is a way to grow your soul. So do it.” And I did! For the 2017 show, I developed that soul into the “etc.” category by submitting three headpieces made from materials purchased from a dollar store. None sold (and I didn’t expect either); however, I dissuaded that I was not and kept the photos to prove it. I further perfected my “craft” etcetera and wore one of my creations to a Kentucky Derby party, to be photographed – to my surprise – for the Main Line Times on a carriage ride. Oh, that Kurt. He understands me; he really understands me.
I’ve met so many people who insist they lack any semblance of creativity. I disavow this notion and maintain that we all possess a unique creative self. Maybe next year’s show is already in the planning stages. If you’re a township resident and have always wanted to nurture or discover your inner artist, here’s your chance to harness that creativity well. What do you have to lose? Let go. Wake up and strike your depths. Locate what alters you. And by all means, “grow your soul, good or bad”.
See you in 2023, Maker-willing!
For more information about the Gladwyne Library and to learn about its upcoming programs, visit lmls.org